By: Kathryn Summers
Today’s birthday wishes go out to Todd Rundgren, a man of many talents and faces, as he has refused to be pigeonholed into any mold throughout his lengthy music career. A complex combination of a rocker, multi-instrumentalist, producer, director, songwriter, computer software developer and innovator has earned Rundgren his status as somewhat of a cult icon in classic rock.
Born and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs on June 22, 1948, Rundgren taught himself how to play guitar, after learning the basics from a series of lessons as a child. He formed his first band, Money, at the age of 16 and then a blues group called Woody’s Truck Stop, which eventually led him to form Nazz in 1967. Nazz’s debut album features, “Hello It’s Me,” a song that became a major hit for the band.
In 1970, Rundgren released his first solo LP Runt, but his career really began to take off shortly after his third solo album, 1972’s Something/Anything? double LP, on which he produced, played all the instruments and sang all of the vocals. After the album, which remains the best-selling album of Rundgren’s career, he decided to switch gears musically.
Rundgren went on to expand his following by forming the progressive-rock band Utopia in 1974, but he continued to be an underground favorite. Between his solo work and Utopia, the hardworking rocker released up to two albums a year for nearly two decades, not to mention his time spent producing successful records for a string of artists that includes Meat Loaf, The New York Dolls, XTC, Hall & Oates, Grand Funk Railroad and many more.
Curious about technology and computer programming, in 1980 Rundgren created the first color graphics tablet, which was licensed to Apple Computers as “The Utopia of Graphics Tablet.” The following year, Rundgren’s music video for Time Heals was the eighth video to be played on MTV and was the first music video to mix live-action video with computer graphics. In 1990, he co-invented Flowfazer, a visual effects program that corresponds to music, switching the images based on the elements of the song.
Since then, Rundgren has continued to tour and release new albums, including Liars in 2004 and this year’s State. Rundgren currently resides in Hawaii with his wife, Michele, of 15 years.
The day after his birthday, Rundgren will kick off the latest leg of his U.S. tour for State, and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate with one of Rock and Roll's best!
For more on Todd Rundgren, head to his official website, and be sure to leave your birthday wishes in the comments section below!